By Joyce Moore BSDH, RDH, CRCST
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a new urgency to infection prevention, serving as a reminder to healthcare professionals that a strong infection prevention program is important to keep patients and caregivers safe. This new urgency has especially highlighted equipment sterilization as a means to reduce transmission of infectious diseases and exposure to contagions.
The dangers surrounding potential transmission of COVID-19 in healthcare settings did not create the need for effective infection prevention measures. Infection prevention has been a focus in healthcare for many years, in both ambulatory and acute care settings.
As discussed in a previous blog post on instrument processing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) established guidelines in 2008 outlining the five steps in the sterilization process:
Sterilization begins by following the facility’s standard operating procedures (SOPs) and the equipment and instrument manufacturer’s instructions for use (IFU). The fourth step, monitoring, includes the use of physical, chemical and biological monitors to assure sterilizer efficacy:
Instrument processing is more than just instrument sterilization. It encompasses the transport, cleaning, disinfection, drying and storage of reusable instruments in a practice, as well as documenting the results of monitoring each sterilization cycle. As you assess your infection prevention efforts, consider standardizing the instrument processing area.
In this white paper, we discuss the need for effective infection prevention measures and look at three steps that, when taken, can help enhance infection prevention programs and initiatives.